The Times published an article by McGuireWoods London partner Francesca Titus on Feb. 17, 2022, weighing the likely fate of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), given its recent track record and the number of companies challenging its decisions.
Sir David Calvert-Smith, a former director of public prosecutions and High Court judge, recently was appointed to conduct an independent review into the Serious Fraud Office’s “lamentable” handling of a bribery case, she noted. “And his findings could bring down the final curtain on the organisation, clearing the way for a more effective agency,” she wrote.
The article described a number of the SFO’s collapsing cases, overturned rulings and defendants acquitted. Courts have openly criticized the agency’s handling of some matters.
“With the SFO’s lack of success and growing lack of credibility, companies are no longer concerned about investigations or the threat of large financial orders,” she wrote. “Anecdotally, directors and company officers are being advised to call the agency’s bluff. And if companies are no longer willing to cooperate because they do not believe they will have to face repercussions, there seems little point of retaining the SFO.”